A controversial physician gainsharing project appears dead, said the New Jersey Hospital Association, a partner in the project with the CMS. The program, launched in January but derailed in April by a lawsuit brought by four excluded hospitals, would have paid cash bonuses to doctors who contained hospital costs in an effort to align hospital and physician economic incentives. NJHA officials said the CMS no longer wants to proceed with the three-year demonstration project. A CMS spokesman, however, said no official letter has gone out ending the project.
After a federal judge permanently enjoined the project, hospital association officials began exploring the possibility of seeking an advisory opinion on its legality from HHS' inspector general's office. Officials also were working with the CMS to "tighten up the project" to address the judge's concerns, said Sean Hopkins, senior vice president of health economics at the NJHA. "With all the stresses on the healthcare industry related to cost constraints, I thought this would have been an ideal opportunity to demonstrate that hospitals and physicians can work collaboratively to infuse efficiencies into the system," Hopkins said. "It's a lost opportunity." -- by Cinda Becker